Friday, December 30, 2005

Is Jesus Still Welcome In Indiana

Is Jesus still welcome in Indiana? That’s the question Indiana Family Institute President Curt Smith asked recently in an appeal letter to his supporters for tax-deductible contributions and support of the IFI’s legislative agenda for 2006. Smith and the IFI tell supporters they will do everything they can to fight the Indiana Civil Liberties Union’s “intolerance for Christianity” and to fight to save the institution of marriage. “Just $25, $50 or more can provide an eternity of benefits,” Smith promises.

As Smith describes it, the big, bad Indiana Civil Liberties Union “wants to ban prayer in the name of Jesus from the State’s House of Representatives,” referring to the recent ruling of Judge David Hamilton in a suit brought against the Indiana House of Representatives by the ICLU on behalf of several citizen plaintiffs. Smith tells his supporters:

I want you to know that intolerance for Christianity will not be tolerated by the IFI. After all, there is a predominance of Christians in this state! We are doing everything we can to fight this suit. We are your voice on issues of religious freedom and freedom of speech.

Of course, the precious right of religious freedom is precisely the reason Judge Hamilton ruled against sectarian prayers in the Indiana House of Representatives to prevent state-sponsored preference of one religion over another. The ruling is hardly an assault on Christianity as Smith suggests. The House of Representatives is free to allow clergy to deliver non-sectarians prayers.

The use of this issue in Smith’s fundraising appeal letter is further evidence that the Christian right, and its favorite ally in the General Assembly, House Speaker Brian Bosma, are continuing to fight Hamilton’s ruling for partisan, political gain as opposed to any valid religious freedom claim. The prayer issue becomes just another wedge issue to drive voter turnout and to raise money in an election year just like the group has used SJR 7, the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriages.

Protecting marriages is a high priority for the IFI. Although the General Assembly overwhelmingly passed the constitutional ban on same sex marriages earlier this year (the first in a two-step process before it can be submitted to voters), Smith tells his supporters something quite different. “Thanks to the Massachusetts court that ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, a strong push for similar legislation is gaining momentum in our state.” Smith asserts. In reality, there has been little momentum to date to stop the passage of the SJR 7 or overturn Indiana’s statutory ban on same sex marriages, let alone momentum for the passage of gay marriage legislation.

But gay marriages aren’t the only threat to marriage. “The other dangerous enemy of marriage in our state is the No-Fault Divorce policy,” Smith says. Before the enactment of Indiana’s current no-fault divorce law, it was necessary for the party petitioning for divorce to show cause, such as infidelity or mental or physical cruelty. This added to the burden of obtaining a divorce, which was particularly difficult for battered spouses. Smith sees it quite differently. He says:

Under Indiana’s current No-Fault Divorce policy, marriage licenses are not worth the paper they’re printed on because anyone can void them at any time for any reason. Furthermore, we’ve seen the divorce rate rise dramatically since No-Fault was instituted. Yes, same-sex marriage and no-fault divorce are a threat to our families. None of us can “feel safe” just because we’re happily married.

In addition to banning gay marriages, Smith’s and the IFI’s solution to the problem is the “covenant marriage.” According to Smith, this legislation would give couples the option to voluntarily designate their union as a covenant marriage. A covenant marriage could not be easily broken. “Couples would be required to complete pre-marital counseling and agree to further marital counseling should difficulties arise,” Smith says. A couple could break the marriage contract under exceptions, such as adultery. “It would eliminate the “irreconcilable differences” excuse,” Smith adds. Oh—and Smith offers this extra bit of incentive for the legislation: “Arkansas, Louisiana and Arizona all offer the Covenant Marriage option.”

The real reason behind the push for the covenant marriage is the financial opportunity it would provide to religious-based marriage counseling services. This law would provide quite a little cottage industry for religious groups affiliated with the IFI to handle the pre-marital and post-marital counseling, which couples will be required to take if the legislation becomes law.

Smith also has plans to use public dollars to fund private, religious schools. SB 281 will provide an educational tax credit to help parents choose a non-public school (including a religious school) or another public school. It also would provide scholarships for children to attend private, religious schools. Indiana’s constitution specifically prohibits the use of public funds for any religious institution.

And don’t forget HB 1841. That legislation will revoke state funding for Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute. The work of its founder, Alfred Kinsey, revolutionized our understanding of human sexuality. The impact of Institute’s work in the areas of sex, gender and reproduction over the past 50 plus years has been immeasurable and has brought great notoriety to IU. The idea of de-funding the Institute would result in a significant loss to the University and our state.

Remember, the IFI is supposed to be a non-partisan, non-profit organization, and it is subject to restrictions on its lobbying activities. As is case with Advance America and the American Family Association, Smith’s group is nothing more than a partisan special interest group. It is an outrage that taxpayers continue to subsidize their activities year after year.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Judge Hamilton Turns Down Bosma's Motion

Federal district court judge David Hamilton turned aside House Speaker Brian Bosma’s motion to reconsider his prior ruling that sectarian prayers cannot be delivered by clerics at the opening of each business day of the Indiana House of Representatives first reports Indiana Daily Insight. His denial of the motion was not a surprise. The 19-page length of it was though.

Bosma’s main argument was that Judge Hamilton’s injunction should have limited the prohibition on sectarian prayers to those paid for with public funds. Hamilton dismissed the argument, citing 7th Circuit precedent for the proposition that the standing limitation of the party bringing the action does not necessarily limit the scope of the court’s ruling. The practice is unconstitutional whether public funds are used or not,” Hamilton said. [T]he law authorizes the court to order an end to the unconstitutional practice,” he added.

Judge Hamilton did not take too kindly to Bosma’s arguments that his injunction should have been limited to opening prayers rather than reaching any official House prayers, and that the injunction was not sufficiently specific. Bosma’s arguments included several hypotheticals, one of which suggested Hamilton’s injunction was limited only to Christian prayers. Hamilton derisively responded to Bosma’s hypothetical:

The Speaker asks whether the injunction concerning sectarian prayers is limited to “Christian denominations,” and “whether denomination in this context refers to Christendom as a whole, or is more limited and means only that there should be no appeals on behalf of Methodism, Presbyterianism, or Roman Catholicism, for example.” This latter question seems to reflect almost a willful obtuseness (emphasis added). As is evident throughout the opinions of this court and other courts addressing official prayers, official prayers that endorse Christianity in general violate the Establishment Clause. The Establishment Clause is not limited to preferences for particular Christian denominations. The Supreme Court has explained that the Establishment Clause “means at the very least that government may not demonstrate a preference for one particular sect or creed (including a preference for Christianity over other religions). ‘The clearest command of the Establishment Clause is that one religious denomination cannot be officially preferred over another.’” The injunction is not limited to sectarian Christian prayers, either by its terms or by its reasoning. The court focused its findings and conclusions on Christian prayers, of course, because the evidence here shows a pattern of Christian prayer. For the same reason, the court provided more specific guidance in the injunction as to when a prayer is a sectarian Christian prayer. There was no evidence of any prayers that were identifiable as Jewish or Muslim or specific to any other particular religion. The constitutional principles, however, apply to a government endorsement or promotion of any religion.

Judge Hamilton also made it clear that his injunction does not require the Speaker to either review the text of prayers in advance, or interrupt the prayers of clergy which go too far. He said:

Perhaps most important, the Speaker has asked what the court expects him to do to comply with the injunction: must he review scripts in advance of a prayer, and should he interrupt a prayer that goes too far? The text of the injunction does not
require either step, and that silence is deliberate.

Hamilton did remind Bosma that he needed to be more pointed in the letters he sends to invited clergy instructing them on appropriate prayers before the House. “Those letters have not been sufficient to avoid a pattern of sectarian prayers advancing the Christian religion,” Hamilton said.

Bosma is now expected to proceed with an appeal to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and, if necessary, to the U.S. Supreme Court. Our hard-earned taxpayer dollars being used to foot the bill.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Sen. Mike Young's War On Working People

Sen. Mike Young (R-Indianapolis), a 20-year veteran of the General Assembly, has once again introduced legislation to amend Indiana’s wage payment statute to make it more difficult for employees to collect wages due them from their employer. Young’s SB 108 would provide that an employer is liable to an employee for unpaid wages at a rate of 18% per annum. It would also allow an employer to automatically deduct up to $200 from an employee’s paycheck to pay for the employee’s uniform, tools or tuition.

Anyone who practices employment law in Indiana knows too well how pro-employer Indiana’s employment laws are. One of the few pro-employee laws is the wage payment statute. It provides a hammer to encourage employers to pay wages to their employees when they are due. An employer, under current Indiana law, is subject to a 10% per day penalty for late payment of wages up to a maximum of double the amount of the wages due the employee as liquidated damages. The employer can also be required to pay the employee’s attorney’s fees if the employee has to take the employer to court to collect the unpaid wages.

It is all too common for a ruthless employer to fire a low-wage earning employee without warning, and then withhold the employee’s last pay check, claiming that the employee didn’t earn the wages, or that the employer was entitled to withhold an amount to cover amounts he claims he is owed by the employee. Indiana law does not allow an employer to withhold money from the employee’s pay check for debts owed to the employer unless he has been given permission in a writing signed by both the employer and employee, subject to a cap on the total amount that can be withheld.

If your employer beats you out of a few hundred bucks, you might conclude it’s not worth the hassle of taking him to court. But if you can get back triple the amount, plus your attorney’s fees, you might take your employer on. Many employers quickly pay up when told of the penalty provisions of the law to avoid the litigations costs and penalties. If Young’s bill were to become law, an employer would only be subject to an annual interest penalty of 18%, or 1.5% per month. That’s a risk a surly employer might be willing to take at the expense of his low-wage earning ex-employees, who has probably already added insult to injury by challenging your right to unemployment benefits, arguing that you were fired for cause.

Sen. Young’s district includes western portions of Marion County, as well as parts of Hendricks and Morgan County. The divorced father of three represents a district with many working class people, particularly in Speedway. It includes a growing number of undocumented workers from Mexico, who unscrupulous employers may find to be easy targets.

It is simply unconscionable that Sen. Young would continue to reintroduce this anti-labor bill year after year. According to his legislative biography, he claims his occupation as a political consultant. Ironically, he also claims to have been awarded the Indiana State Public Employees Legislator of the Year award in 1995. Sen. Young should give Indiana workers a rest. The only jobs many of them can find pay little more than minimum wage, with many of our best-paying jobs going elsewhere. Don’t give employers more incentive to kick people who are already down. Get a heart Sen. Young.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Christian Right Takes On Brokeback Mountain

One of our favorite gay bashing Christian right organizations, Dr. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, has taken up the movie review business over at With all the media attention focused on Brokeback Mountain, the organization couldn’t let this one slip by without comment. Reviewer Steven Isaac adds quite an interesting perspective to the movie we thought we would share with you. Spoiler Warning: If you have not seen the movie yet, you may not want to read further.

In his opening comments Isaac says: “Take everything you know about how love works (or doesn't work) when two people who are crazy about each other find themselves doomed to a life of separation by time, distance or culture—and remove the woman from the equation. What's left is Brokeback Mountain.” Well, there’s a little more to the movie than just that as Isaac’s review readily admits.

Isaac, to his credit, does find some redeeming quality in the movie. Isaac cites Ennis del Mar’s (played by Heath Ledger) reluctance to live with his gay lover, Jack Twist (played by Jack Gyllenhaal), as a positive element of the movie. He says: “Usually it's a negative thing when people give in to the societal norms around them and give up on their dreams, refuse to step across racial divides, etc. But here, Ennis' reluctance to live with Jack is a good example of how established—biblical—morality within a culture can help people make right decisions.” A disappointed Isaac observes that the social pressures aren’t strong enough to “keep [Ennis] from repeatedly having sex with Jack, though.”

Isaac also tells us that the movie unwittingly hints at the dangers of homosexuality. Quoting Caleb Price of Focus on the Family he writes: “Contrary to the nearly ubiquitous modern portrayals of homosexuality, in Brokeback Mountain the lifestyle is neither glamorous nor normal and healthy," he said. "We see that each character had root causes to his same-sex attraction. And then we see their God-given desires to be affirmed by members of the same sex met in sinful, ungodly ways. We see the soul ties that come along with carnal relations and the ensuing devastation to wives and marriages when the forbidden fruit is eaten.”

Apparently, the evil is being who God made you rather than a person you pretend to be to conform to society norms according to Isaac and Price. As to whether homosexuality is “glamorous” or “normal and healthy”, it seems a homosexual person is a better judge of that than either Price or Isaac. It is unclear what he is referring to as the root causes of Jack’s and Ennis’ homosexual tendencies. Are we to believe that the death of Ennis’ parents when he was still a young boy and having to be raised by his older brother and sister is a root cause of a homosexual tendency? Or the fact that Jack was never close to his father growing up? That hardly seems credible.

Isaac also quotes Price as saying that “the film clearly depicts the homosexuality of the characters as bondage. In one scene Jack exclaims profound exasperation that he and Ennis are not able to 'quit' each other. One can't help but wonder what their respective lives might have been like had they poured their energy and attention into their wives, families and careers instead of homosexuality.” Again, neither Isaac or Price can appreciate that a person doesn’t choose homosexuality over heterosexuality; it is an innate characteristic that neither can run away from no matter how hard they try. One man’s bondage is another man’s love.

Isaac, surprisingly, finds the movie spiritually uplifting. This is because Jack and Ennis are both church-going men he says. One was a Methodist and the other was a Pentecostal. Ennis and his wife, Alma, are married in a Christian ceremony Isaac observes. There is that moment, however, when Isaac gives us that Ennis laments that he doesn’t want to be around that “fire and brimstone crowd” when his wife asks him to attend a church social. Gee, I wonder why?

As to the sexual content, Isaac calls it mostly “rough-and-tumble” with “lots of pushing, shoving, grappling and holding.” Isaac seems almost pleased that both Jack and Ennis had heterosexual sex. “Ennis and Alma get physical twice. Both scenes are graphic; one includes breast nudity.” Yum Yum. But Isaac Laments, “[T]hose straight relationships are shown to ultimately matter little to Jack and Ennis. They just can’t wait to cheat on their wives when the opportunities present themselves.” For his lady readers, Isaac adds that Jack can be seen nude “from side and back” washing his clothes, and Jack and Ennis “jump naked into the water for a swim (seen from a distance).” Darn.

What’s particularly noteworthy is how Isaac, in discussing the film’s violence, quickly brushes aside the brutal violence depicted by the film against gay men. As Isaac put it, “There's graphic talk about a man being mutilated and murdered. Onscreen, that man's corpse is seen, and another man is beaten to death.” In the actual film, Ennis tells Jack of a dead gay man his father took him to see in the Wyoming wilderness as a young boy to teach him a lesson about what happens to queers. The dead man was involved in a gay relationship with another cowboy. The local men didn’t take too kindly to the relationship so they beat one of the men to death, tied his genitals to a rope and drug him behind a horse until his genitals were severed from his body. Ennis suspected his father may have been one of the vigilantes.

The other man who is beaten to death to which Isaac refers is Jack. After giving up on Ennis, Jack finds another man, leaves his wife and decides to return to his father’s ranch in Wyoming. The locals down in Texas wouldn’t stand for it. He was beaten to death with a tire iron by several men. Jack’s wife would later tell Ennis that he died changing a flat tire when the tire exploded in his face and he bled to death without help nearby, even though she knew the real truth of his murder.

As with the brutal beating death of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming a few years ago, many on the Christian right would like to pretend it didn’t happen. Isaac clearly doesn’t want any sympathetic message leaping from the screen about the violent hate crimes which have been inflicted upon gay men in our country, which the “fire and brimstone crowd” have helped to foment.

As to other negative elements of the film, Isaac offers one we find quite humorous. He worries that the film will make wives suspicious of their husbands. “[I]t could have the effect of making wives suspicious of husbands who have good male friends. After watching this movie, old-fashioned male bonding exercises such as fishing, hunting and camping feel like nothing more than weak excuses for nefarious ‘hook ups.’” Is Isaac hiding something from his wife?

Proving just how much he doesn’t get it, Isaac reacts to the following comment made by Jake Gyllenhaal about Jack’s and Ennis’ relationship: "When two people love each other, they love each other. And people should hold on to it as hard as they can, whether it's homosexual or heterosexual.” Isaac retorts, “He's partly right. But if he's talking about the kind of love shared onscreen by Jack and Ennis, he's conflating the meanings of the words love and lust.” Sexual love, he tells us, is a “form of love God reserves for a man and a woman who have embraced the gentle bonds of marriage.”

What really upsets Isaac about Brokeback Mountain is that its director, Ang Lee, “soft-sell[s] the damage done by [Jack’s and Ennis’] choices.” He wrote, “You don't walk away from Brokeback Mountain thinking about the destructiveness of acting on homosexual temptations. Rather, you're left with the idea that these cowboy-lovers would have experienced none of this pain if only social and moral norms had allowed them to pursue their passion from the get-go . . . That's a powerful message far too many people are accepting, as evidenced by the thunderous applause I heard swelling around me when the credits began to roll.” That’s the real truth about this movie that truly frightens folks like Isaac and other’s on the religious right.

Brokeback Mountain opens tomorrow in Indianapolis at the new Keystone Arts Cinema.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Understanding Your Rights Under The HRO

Advance Indiana editor Gary R. Welsh, who practices employment law, has prepared the following summary of the protections afforded by Indianapolis’ new Human Rights Ordinance with respect to “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to assist you in understanding your rights under this new law.

What constitutes a “discriminatory practice” under the HRO?

Any effort to exclude from, or failure or refusal to extend to any person equal opportunities in the treatment of any person with respect to employment, housing, education and public accommodations because of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity constitutes a discriminatory practice under the new law.

A discriminatory practice would also apply to retaliation against a person because the person filed a complaint alleging discrimination under the HRO, or because the person testified or otherwise cooperated with the resolution of a complaint filed under the HRO.

With respect to housing, it is a discriminatory practice to attempt to present, dissuade or discourage a person from purchasing or renting real estate because of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It also applies to conduct designed to create neighborhood unrest or to influence or induce a person to sale or lease their property because of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Who is covered by the term “sexual orientation”?

Contrary to popular opinion, the term covers more than gays and lesbians. It is defined to include an individual’s actual or perceived identity or practice as a bisexual person and a heterosexual person, as well as a lesbian woman or a gay male.

Who is covered by the term “gender identity”?

Any individual having or being perceived as having a gender-related self-identity, self-image, appearance, expression or behavior different from those characteristics traditionally associated with the person’s assigned sex at birth. The term would cover, but is not limited to, any person who has been diagnosed by a medical professional as having gender identity disorder. Also, a person who is discriminated against because of their appearance as a femine-looking man or a masculine-looking woman is protected by the term "gender identity."

Who must comply with the law?

Any business which employees 6 or more employees, employment agencies, labor organizations, any unit of local government or municipality, public schools, public facilities and private establishments (with respect to public accommodations) and real estate brokers, real estate sales persons, real estate owners, appraisers and lenders (with respect to housing opportunities).

Who is not covered by the law?

Businesses with fewer than 6 employees, not-for-profit fraternal, religious, education, and charitable organizations, including any schools, education, charitable or religious institutions affiliated with a church or religious institution. Any social clubs that are not operated for a profit and are not open to the public are exempt from the law. Also, with respect to housing, an owner-occupied boarding house or single family residence is exempt from the law.

How do I file a complaint if I believe I have been discriminated against because of my sexual orientation or gender identity?

A written complaint must be filed by a charging party with the Division of Equal Opportunity for the City of Indianapolis.

What must be included in the complaint?

The written complaint must include: (1) the name and address of the complaining party; (2) the name and address of the person against whom the complaint is being made; (3) the alleged discriminatory practice, along with a statement of the particulars; (4) the date and dates of the alleged discriminatory practice; (5) if it is a continuing discriminatory practice, the dates between which the alleged discriminatory practice occurred; (6) a statement as to whether any other civil or criminal complaints have been filed against the person alleged to have committed the discriminatory practice; and (7) a statement, if the complaint involves a discriminatory employment practice, that the employer has 6 or more employees. If you have witnesses who can assist with your complaint, you should also list their names and addresses. The complaint must be signed and verified by the complaining party before a notary public.

Who is the proper party to charge in your complaint?

If your complaint is based on employment discrimination, it should name your employer, the employment agency or the labor organization, as the case may be. If your discrimination is based upon housing, it should name the owner of the property, the real estate broker/sales agent, appraiser or lender, as the case may be. If it involves a public education institute, the board governing the school should be named. If your complaint is based on a public accommodation, the owner of the establishment should be named. If it involves a public facility, the governing body for the public facility should be named.

Where do I file my complaint?

The complaint must be filed with the City of Indianapolis, Division of Equal Opportunity, 200 E. Washington Street, City-County Building, Suite #1501, Indianapolis, Indiana 46204.

Is there a time limitation on the filing of a complaint?

Yes. You are required to file a complaint within 180 days of the date or dates of the alleged discriminatory practice. In the case of a continuing discriminatory practice, the complaint must be filed within 180 days of the most recent continuing discriminatory practice.

What happens after I file my complaint?

The Division of Equal Opportunity will commence an investigation of your complaint within 30 days. The agency will serve a copy of your complaint on the charged party, which may respond in writing to your complaint any time before the conclusion of any action taken with respect to your complaint. The agency is authorized to conduct discovery of the charged party, which can include interrogatories, request for production of documents and things, subpoenas, etc. as part of its investigation. The agency has 100 days to complete its investigation, which may be extended if more time is necessary to adjudicate your complaint. The agency has the authority to conciliate between the charging party and the respondent at any time during the investigation if the parties desire to resolve the complaint without reaching formal findings of fact and conclusions of law.

What happens when the investigation is concluded?

The Division will report its findings to a 3-member panel of the Equal Opportunity Board for review, indicating whether it believes reasonable cause exists for a finding of a discriminatory practice. A public hearing on the complaint may also be held upon 10 days’ written notice to the parties. If the 3-member panel believes reasonable cause exists for a finding of discrimination, it will prepare a report within 30 days setting forth its findings of facts and conclusions of law. If either party disagrees with the finding of the 3-member panel, it may appeal to the full Board, which has been reconstituted to include 14 members under the new law, with 8 members appointed by the mayor and 6 members appointed by the city-county council. The board is to be comprised of an equal number of Republicans and Democrats. The appeal to the full board must be made within 30 days. The Board will rule within 30 days on the appeal, unless more time is required, in which case it can take an additional 30 days.

What are my remedies if I have been discriminated against because of my sexual orientation or gender identity?

The agency is authorized to restore your “complete losses” as “necessary to assure justice.” It does not specifically authorize the agency to require the respondent to pay your attorney’s fees, although it may be necessary to award them if it is necessary to assure justice. It is not unusual for attorney’s fees to exceed the complaining party’s actual damages in these types of cases. In an employment action, your remedies could include back pay, reinstatement (if you’ve been fired), promotion, or hiring (if you were denied employment). Because the HRO does not specify different types of remedies available like the federal civil rights act, for example, does, it is less clear what a complainant can recover. In addition to the remedies for the individual, a business which is engaged in discriminatory practices can be barred from participating in contracting opportunities with the city and other governmental entities in Marion Co. Also, a licensed business, such as a bar, could have its license revoked or suspended as a result of engaging in a discriminatory practice.

Can I bring an action in court if I don’t like the outcome of my administrative complaint?

No. The HRO provides no private right of action for a complaining party if he/she is not satisfied with the outcome of his complaint. The Equal Opportunity Board, however, may take a respondent to court for failing to comply with an order of the Board. Also, a responding party has the right to ask the Marion Superior or Circuit Court to review a decision of the Board with which it disagrees as long as it acts within 30 days of the rendering of the final decision. A complainant may argue that the failure of the HRO to provide a similar right of review by the court for complainants is a violation of his/her constitutional right to due process under the equal protection clause and challenge it accordingly.

Do I need an attorney to file a complaint?

No. You are not required to be represented by an attorney in order to file a complaint. However, it is highly recommended that you at least consult with an attorney before filing a complaint on your own. An attorney can greatly assist you in presenting an actionable complaint before the agency.

Is there a penalty for filing a false complaint?

Yes. A person who files a false compaint of discrimination against a person may be charged with false reporting of a crime.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

The Foolishness of Jim Bradford

For those who view Republican Councilor Jim Bradford as nothing more than an extremist reactionary who contributes nothing of substance for the city and the constituents he represents in the Broad Ripple neighborhood, it’s been quite a rewarding year. The outspoken conservative’s latest pronouncement is just another in a series of steps ensuring his own political demise.

Take his reaction to fellow GOP Councilors Scott Keller’s and Lance Langsford’s support this past week for the Human Rights Ordinance and the police merger ordinance. After earlier interrupting comments by Keller in a rude fashion following the police merger vote, Bradford stormed out of the city-county council meeting after both measures passed with a sarcastic “Merry Christmas” wish to his fellow councilors. Bradford later fired off an e-mail to the two. According to the Star’s Behind Closed Doors, Bradford’s e-mail contained the subject line "Hope you both resign," with a time and date stamp of 11:11 p.m. Monday. It read:

I will formally ask for expulsion from our Republican Caucus at our next schedule meeting, I have no need to believe after tonight (sic) vote that you both are truly Republicans, Jim Bradford.

Currently, the Democrats have just a one-seat margin on the council with a 15-14 slim majority. Before the last election, Republicans had controlled every council elected since the city and county consolidated in the early 1970s. If Bradford gets his wish, Republicans would have to win an additional three seats, rather than just one, to regain control of the council in 2007. Now, if I’m a Democrat, Jim Bradford is the guy I want calling the shots for the Republicans.

A little more than a year ago, Councilor Bradford also came up with a bright idea of cracking down on illegal gambling in the city. It sounded like a good idea, but there was only one problem: It targeted only pea shack houses in the African American community. It seems these establishments posed a major crime problem for the city, unlike the illegal gambling taking place in VFWs, American Legions and private clubs, despite their reputation for making charitable contributions to the black community. Before his plan got shelved in committee, Bradford managed to alienate every African American in his district.

Councilor Bradford, like any other year he’s been a member of the council, voted against every single proposed tax increase, including funding for housing juvenile offenders and foster care for children in need of services, as well as the police merger ordinance and every other budget-solving proposal before the council this past year. He then had the audacity to blame Mayor Peterson when the city had to close the one-truck fire station in Broad Ripple as a cost-cutting measure.

Bradford has also been one of the most vocal opponents on the council of the Human Rights Ordinance, apparently oblivious to the fact that his diverse Broad Ripple district is home to a fairly large number of GLBT and younger, more tolerant persons. As the owner of the Whistle Stop Deli along the Monon Trail, one would think Bradford would have caught on to this by now. These constituents will never forget his vote against their common interests.

Bradford, on one of his many occasions in the past criticizing Mayor Peterson, quoted lyrics from a John Mellencamp song to make a point. He said, “It's what you do and not what you say; if you're not part of the future, then get out of the way.” That’s exactly what many people are saying of Jim Bradford these days. Bradford would do well to remember the words of the GOP’s first President, Abraham Lincoln. He once said, “Tis better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.”

Jim Bradford would be doing us all a favor by making as his new year’s resolution a vow to remain silent for the remainder of what most certainly will be his last term as a city-county councilor.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Howey's Words of Praise For Keller And Langsford

State House political commentator Brian Howey has some kind words of praise for Indianapolis Republican councilors Scott Keller and Lance Langsford, both of whom broke ranks with their party to join Democrats in passing the historic Human Rights Ordinance and police merger ordinance.

This happened because there are Democrats and Republicans who are wise enough to do what’s right for the future of their communities, delaying the partisanship until the months immediately before the next election.Statehouse Democrats should pay heed to the wonderful innovators in their party, the Viscloskys and Petersons. They should study the courage of legislators like Keller and Langsford (who, incidentally, will be heading to serve his country in Iraq in the next few months) who had the wisdom to do what’s right, instead of what was politically expediant.

Brokeback Mountain To Open In Indy Next Wednesday

The highly acclaimed gay romance movie, Brokeback Mountain, will open in Indianapolis sooner than anticipated. Keystone Art Cinema will feature the movie beginning Wednesday, December 28, 2005. The theater originally expected to open the movie in early to mid-January. The huge box office success in the limited theaters the movie has been shown has caused the distribution company to step up its rollout. The movie grossed more than $2.5 million after its second week of playing in just 69 theaters.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Anti-Gay Marriage Proponents Use Fraud to Advance Amendment In Massachusetts

The Christian right in Massachusetts is apparently willing to do anything to win in its effort to ban gay marriage in the only state in the country where it is currently legal, including committing fraud.

According to a Boston Globe report, petition circulators pulled a bait-and-switch to deceive people into signing petitions calling for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages. The signature collectors would ask a person to support an effort to legalize the sale of beer and wine in grocery stores, and then hand the person the ant-gay marriage amendment petition to sign.

As a result of the deception, proponents of the gay marriage ban were able to obtain enough signatures to get it certified for submission to the state legislature. If at least 25% of a constitutional convention approve of the amendment in two successive legislative sessions, the proposal goes to the voters for approval, which would not occur until 2008 at the earliest.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

"Activist" Bush Judge Says No To ID

When U.S. federal district court judge David Hamilton recently ruled that the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution required the Indiana House of Representatives to deliver only non-sectarian prayers at the opening of its daily business, conservative Christians immediately attacked him as just another liberal activist judge. But what about that Bush-appointed judge who just struck down the teaching of intelligent design in public schools.

Judge John E. Jones III ruled that “intelligent design” as required to be taught in the Dover, Pennsylvania schools is not science and violates the Establishment Clause. Jones wrote, “We have concluded that it is not [science], and moreover that ID cannot couple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.”

Judge Jones did not hold back in ascribing motives to the Dover School Board. He wrote: “The breathtaking inanity of the board's decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.”

Jones was particularly perturbed by the fact that several board members lied during testimony in his court about the motive behind the enactment of the mandatory ID teaching policy in Dover’s public schools. He lamented, “It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID

And what about the charge that his decision would make him an activist judge? Jones would have no part of it. Jones said those who disagree with his decision “will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge,” . . . [but] “this is manifestly not an activist Court.”

The Discovery Institute, a leading proponent of “intelligent design” theory, not surprisingly thinks differently of Judge Jones. “Judge Jones got on his soapbox to offer his own views of science, religion and evolution,” John West, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, said in a news release to “He makes it clear that he wants his place in history as the judge who issued a definitive decision about intelligent design. This is an activist judge who has delusions of grandeur.”

No Mr. West, Judge Jones simply understands that he must lay aside his own personal religious beliefs when interpreting our constitution. The Establishment Clause is there for a purpose. To simply read it out of the constitution as West and others on the Christian right would have us to do would be, well, unconstitutional.

Will this stop the Christian right from pursuing the idea in Indiana? Rep. Bruce Borders (R-Jasonville), a leading proponent in the House, told the Star the decision will not affect his plan to introduce legislation to address “problems with the theory of evolution.” He explained, “Basically, what evolution teaches is that one species turned into another, yet there are no examples in science of that around us. If evolution is the force that did this, why aren't there mixtures of species on planet Earth?” Another product of our fine education system this Rep. Borders is.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Greg Garrison Lays Bare His Anti-Gay Bigoted Views

WIBC’s conservative morning talk-show host, Greg Garrison, served up a full plate of anti-gay bigoted ranting on his show today in response to the passage of Indianapolis’ Human Rights Ordinance by the city- county council last night. Garrison, an attorney by trade, dismissed any notion of the right to “equal treatment under the law” in his mouth-foaming exercise of misrepresenting the gay rights measure to his listeners.

Garrison repeatedly lambasted the HRO as the legal recognition of the “homosexual lifestyle” and “acts of sodomy,” ignoring the conclusion reached by every major medical organization in the nation that sexual orientation and gender identity are genetically or biologically determined. Garrison falsely asserted that businesses would have no right to judicial review of any findings of discrimination against a business by the city’s Equal Employment Advisory Board. In fact, the HRO specifically allows businesses but not employees the right to ask a court to review a decision of the Board.

The ill-informed talk-show host devoted most of his attention to the provisions of the HRO adding “gender identity” as a class entitled to protection from discrimination. Garrison argued that employers would be plagued by male workers showing up for work dressed as women and using the women’s bathroom, and that the employers would have no choice but to accept the employees’ cross-dressing lifestyle. In so arguing, Garrison completely exposed his complete ignorance of “gender identity”, believing that cross-dressing and gender identity are synonymous.

Curiously, Garrison accepted three successive phone calls from people who worked for businesses which had experienced male employees changing to the female gender. Each of the callers’ accounts matched names of persons (and the businesses for whom they worked) who testified before the Rules & Public Policy Committee hearings on the HRO. Advance Indiana does not believe each of these calls took place spontaneously; rather, it was a concerted effort by Garrison and his friends on the Christian right to appeal to his listeners’ fears and prejudices and to specifically target these citizen witnesses.

Outraged by Garrison’s bigoted ranting and distortions, Advance Indiana editor Gary R. Welsh sent a signed e-mail to Garrison, which read: “As an attorney, I am appalled at your complete ignorant and bigoted views on the Human Rights Ordinance. You are completely misrepresenting what the ordinance does. As is typically the case, you only have as guests people from the extreme right to express their views. People who can intelligently and thoughtfully speak on the other side of the issue are excluded from your show. When I took my oath as an attorney, I took an oath to uphold the U.S. and Indiana Constitutions, both of which ensure equality under the law. Apparently, that is something that has completely escaped you. You should be ashamed of what you are saying about this important civil rights law. I will gladly debate you in any forum any day on this issue.”

Within minutes of reading Welsh’s e-mail, Garrison referred to him derisively as “some guy who claims to be an attorney” and completely dismissed the views expressed in the e-mail. To further highlight his complete ignorance and insensitivity, Garrison sent Welsh an e-mail which read: “OH Gary, where to begin with you. Read the ordinance. The worm can is turned over here. Once again your emotional passion for this kind of crap has blinded you to the letter as well as spirit of those constitutions you so recklessly attempt to invoke. You will search in vain for a provision in either document that protects sodomy or other forms of homosexual behavior. Likewise, cross-dressing, using the ladies' restroom, etc, are not protected. You just wish they were, so you say if (sic) often enough--and castigate those who bother to read the documents--that eventually you can make yourself think it's there. Its (sic) not.”

Well Greg, where to begin with you. To begin with, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional state laws criminalizing intimate sexual conduct between two persons of the same sex in the 2003 decision, Lawrence v. Texas, as a violation of a person’s right to due process under the 14th Amendment. The Reagan-appointed Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in which he eloquently explained the constitutional issue: “Equality of treatment and the due process right to demand respect for conduct protected by the substantive guarantee of liberty are linked in important respects, and a decision on the latter point advances both interests. If protected conduct is made criminal and the law which does so remains unexamined for its substantive validity, its stigma might remain even if it were not enforceable as drawn for equal protection reasons. When homosexual conduct is made criminal by the law of the State, that declaration in and of itself is an invitation to subject homosexual persons to discrimination both in the public and in the private spheres.”

Advance Indiana recommends that Garrison go back and take a few refresher courses in constitutional law before twisting it any further to conform to his anti-gay bigoted views. As a would-be respected member of the Indiana bar, he owes it to his profession and the public-at-large to accurately represent the rights we have as citizens under the Constitution. He is, after all, an officer of the court. We also recommend that he read the Human Rights Ordinance as have Welsh and local employment law expert Kevin Betz. He might actually learn something about what the law actually does. But then again, that would require Garrison to practice law--something he apparently doesn't do much of these days.

In a follow-up e-mail, Welsh offered to meet Garrison face-to-face on his show to debate the merits of the HRO. He also advised him that he had a gay friend who worked for WIBC who is frightened by his anti-gay bigoted views, and that Garrison makes him feel uncomfortable working in the same workplace.

Garrison, without referencing the follow-up e-mail, became very defensive at the suggestion of others e-mailing and calling into his show that he was being hateful or bigoted towards gay people. Garrison offered that he had known friends and business acquaintances who were gay, but they were all dead now, implying that they had all died of AIDS or other consequences of an “unhealthy lifestyle.”

Welsh’s offer to debate Garrison face-to-face live on his show has so far gone without a response from Garrison. And we don’t expect the phone to ring any time soon. He wouldn’t want to be confused by the true facts of the HRO.

Indianapolis Passes Historic Gay Rights Ordinance

GLBT Community Deals Major Blow To Bigoted Christian Right Efforts
In a historic advancement for civil rights in Indianapolis and the state of Indiana, the Indianapolis City-County Council, in front of a jammed-packed, standing room only audience voted by a one vote margin tonight, 15-14, to approve Proposal 622, the Human Rights Ordinance, reversing the 11-18 defeat of the same proposal last April. Two brave Republicans, Scott Keller and Lance Langsford, joined 13 Democrat councilors in providing the needed votes to pass the landmark gay rights ordinance. Three Democrats who voted against the measure in April, Patrice Abdullah, Ron Gibson and Steve Talley, switched their positions to pave the way for the HRO’s passage. Two Democrats, Sherron Franklin and Mary Moriarty Adams, voted no as they did the last time.

The HRO, as approved, adds both "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" as protected classes from discrimination in employment and housing in Indianapolis. The law provides penalties for violations, including redress for the victimes of such discrimination. Businesses which discriminate against persons becaues of their sexual orientation or gender identity will also be prohibited from doing business with city-county governments in Marion Co.

The Christian right, led by Advance America’s Eric Miller, the American Family Association’s Micah Clark and the Indiana Family Institute’s Curt Smith, poured all of their resources into a last ditch effort to derail the HRO, but in the end, the simple desire to provide “equal justice for all” won the day. A dejected Miller and Smith left tonight’s council meeting, with their white hoods and sheets in hand, in disbelief that their campaign of hate and bigotry had failed to prevail as it had before. The outspoken Clark, figuring defeat was already in the offing, didn’t even bother to show for the meeting.

The HRO vote, along with a vote to approve Mayor Peterson’s plan to merge the Indianapolis Police Department and Sheriff’s Department, left the Republican caucus in shambles. All Republican council members voted in lockstep against the HRO and police merger ordinances, except for Keller and Langsford, to the disappointment of the business community and many leading Republicans in the community who favored both ordinances as needed steps for Indianapolis' future.

To the disappointment of many moderate Republicans, Lynn McWhirter brushed aside encouragement from Gov. Daniels and other Republican leaders to support the HRO, instead joining hands with the anti-gay bigoted right. McWhirter had told HRO supporters in recent days that she intended to vote for the measure. Another Republican Councilor turned her back on a gay nephew who pleaded with her to support the HRO, while other Republicans ignored the pleas of business leaders. Instead, they chose to abide by Murphy’s Law, dubbed for the anti-gay GOP Chairman, Mike Murphy, who first proposed that all Republican councilors vote against the gay civil rights measure so that the GOP could use it as a divisive wedge issue in the next city elections.

Many in the audience sat in disbelief as Councilor McWhirter unsuccessfully offered a “tongue and cheek” amendment to add “obesity” to the list of protected classes protected by the proposed HRO, knowing that she had already told HRO supporters that she intended to vote against it because that was the prevailing view of her constituents. Her actions tonight are, in particular, an embarrassment to Gov. Daniels, who took the time to encourage her support of the HRO, only to have her throw sand in his face.

At the conclusion of the vote on the police merger, a few police officers in attendance acted unruly as they left the room, and anti-gay bigoted, Councilor Jim Bradford interrupted Councilor Scott Keller with rude comments as he explained his support for the police merger ordinance. The Star reported that Bradford stormed out after the votes. He has accused Keller of trading his vote for the police merger in exchange for Democrat support for the HRO. Bradford last week asked Keller to leave the GOP and indicated that he did not want to attend any further Republican caucus meetings at which Keller was present.

Democrat Patrice Abdullah bowed to the pressure of his gay constituents and laid aside his fundamentalist Islamic objections to homosexuality in switching his vote in favor of the HRO. Abdullah told the Star that he wanted to “reflect the will of his Downtown district." Democrat Ron Gibson switched his vote, according to the Star, because he became convinced that the “vote was about discrimination.” Gibson, like Abdullah, had previously cited his religous beliefs as the reason for opposing the HRO.

Tonight’s victories on the HRO and the police merger bolster the standings of Mayor Bart Peterson (D) and city-county councilor president, Steve Talley, both of whom come out big winners. Both appeared weak when the proposals lost on earlier votes this year. Tonight’s votes are truly a reversal of fortunes for the two. Republican Leader Phil Borst and GOP chairman Mike Murphy are both big losers, having alienated a large bloc of Marion Co. voters at the same time they firmly established themselves as road-blocks to the future progress of the city.

Tonight’s victories have established new-found power and influence for Indianapolis’ GLBT community. The Region 8 Indiana Equality Steering Committee, led by Bil Browning and comprised of more than a dozen area GLBT and GLBT-supportive organizations, pulled together to wage an unprecedented grassroots campaign for the gay civil rights cause. Linda Purdue, a member of the Indianapolis Equal Opportunity Advisory Board, in particular, has labored harder and longer than anyone to make the passage of the HRO a reality. Scott Keller and Jackie Nytes, as the lead sponsors, never waivered from their efforts to pass the HRO and deserve enormous gratitude from the GLBT community.

There are far too many people and organizations to thank for tonight’s victory. But it demonstrates the power of speaking up and taking part in the political process. Too often, the GLBT community has sat on the sidelines as they have been pilloried by the Christian right, but not this time. We took on the Christian right in hand-to-hand combat and prevailed, not only in the minds of 15 councilors but in the minds of a vast majority of residents living in Indianapolis.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Talley Has Votes To Pass HRO

City-County Council President Steve Talley (D) tells WISH-TV that he has the votes to pass Proposal 622, the Human Rights Ordinance, as well as the police merger ordinance, at tomorrow night’s special meeting of the council at 7:00 p.m. in the public assembly room of the city-county building. WISH-TV says, “City county council president Steve Talley says he has the votes to get both measures passed because he has the support from a Republican [, Scott Keller]”.

The HRO fell just four votes short when it was last voted on in April. Republican Lance Langsford and Talley have already declared their public support for the HRO. Expect Talley to also deliver the votes of Democrats Patrice Abdullah and Ron Gibson, both of whom voted against it previously. Also, look for Lynn McWhirter to become the third Republican to support the HRO. Don’t be surprised to see two to three more Republicans jump on board the HRO by the final vote tomorrow night. Democrats Sherron Franklin and Mary Moriarty Adams are expected to vote against the HRO as they did in April.

The HRO will be approved this time. The only question remaining: By how big of a margin will it pass?

Ohio Gay Marriage Amendment Violates 14th Amendment

A Ohio district court judge has ruled that the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriages, which was approved overwhelmingly by the state’s voters last year, violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as applied to victims of domestic violence reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

The Ohio gay marriage amendment is similar but not identical in language to SJR-7, Indiana’s proposed amendment. The Ohio amendment limits marriage to the union of “one man and one woman.” It contains a second provision barring state and local governments from “creating or recognizing any legal status for relationships of unwed partners that intends to proximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of a marriage." It is the latter provision that is at issue.

Ohio’s domestic violence statute allows a victim automatic access to a protective order against the accused, which the police must enforce. The law applies to domestic violence victims of unmarried partners living together, whether of the same sex or not, as well as married partners.

Judge James Celebrezze found that the domestic violence law violated the Ohio’s gay marriage amendment because it “clearly grants a ‘legal status’ to a cohabiting relationship.” Because the domestic-violence law cannot apply to unmarried couples living together, Judge Celebrezze found that an assault victim in a co-habitating household is not treated equally under the law as the 14th Amendment requires. He said it was “nearly impossible to divine” a “rational basis” for the state to discriminate against co-habitating domestic violence victims.

Judge Celebrezze was less than charitable in explaining the rationale behind the gay marriage amendment. He called it “political gimmickry.” He explained that the architects of the amendment drew it up "to guarantee that a certain demographic of voters would turn out in large numbers at the polls to vote in the presidential election." Supporters of the gay marriage amendment immediately dubbed Celebrezze an “activist judge” for making the ruling.

If SJR-7 is adopted in Indiana, similar issues could arise under Indiana’s Civil Protection Order Act. In addition to defining marriage as between one man and one woman, SJR-7 contains language very similar to Ohio’s amendment. It provides that the “Constitution or any other Indiana law may not be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents of marriage be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.” Indiana’s Civil Protection Order Act arguably does just this when applied to an unwed victim co-habitating with another person.

Star Says Most Businesses See HRO As A Plus


The Indianapolis Star’s Brendan O’Shaughnessy reports today that most businesses see passage of Proposal 622, the Human Rights Ordinance, as a plus for Indianapolis. O’Shaughnessy’s article also points out some serious weaknesses in the proposed ordinance after Advance Indiana took him to task last week for overstating the penalty provisions of the proposed law.

“Many business leaders in Indianapolis said they welcome the City-County Council's proposal to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation because it signals tolerance and that will help recruit new employees,” O’Shaughnessy wrote. He notes that most major companies doing business in Indianapolis have already adopted similar employment policies barring such discrimination, and that the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce supports the HRO.

Not all of the chamber’s members support it though. O’Shaughnessy cites BitWise Solutions’ CEO Ron Brumbarger, a chamber board member, as one such opponent. "I'm not trying to be discriminatory, but where does this stop?" Brumbarger asked. Brumbarger told O’Shaughnessy that “his viewpoint may not be politically correct, but some entrepreneurs just want government to stay out of the way.”

His views probably come as a shock to many people in Indianapolis’ technology community. Brumbarger has been at the forefront of working to make Indianapolis a more attractive place for high tech companies to locate. High tech companies have been viewed as leading the way in diversity to create a favorable environment for worker creativity. His backward-thinking on this issue may cause the high tech community to reconsider whether it wants him out front speaking on behalf of its businesses.

O’Shaughnessy’s article, importantly, corrects a misrepresentation in an earlier article he wrote, which suggested that employers could face tough penalties if they discriminated against gay employees, such as being taken to court and having to pay the employee’s attorney’s fees. Advance Indiana took O’Shaughnessy to task for overstating the penalty provisions of the HRO. He initially defended the story in an e-mail to Advance Indiana editor Gary R. Welsh. He said, “I stand by the story.” He indicated that he had been told by Aaron Haith, the council’s attorney, that the ordinance covered all attorney’s fees and court costs.

Today’s article backtracked considerably. He writes: “Some lawyers think the anti-discrimination proposal is too weak because penalties for discriminating do not specifically include significant fines or the right to go to court.” 'The ordinance does not provide any meaningful protections for anyone but the employer,' said Kevin Betz, a lawyer who specializes in civil rights cases. The proposal would allow people to complain only to the city's Equal Opportunity Advisory Board, he said, and would not let them collect attorney's costs. 'It is essentially a feel-good statement of policy with no teeth,' Betz said."

Kevin Betz touched on the main points we raised last week. Our concern was that the story on the pending ordinance created an undue misapprehension on the part of employers as to its true effect by overstating its penalty provisions.

The story also mentions that one business owner expressed his concern about the “potential of false discrimination claims.” O”Shaughnessy did not mention that the HRO, as proposed, would make it a crime to file a false complaint of discrimination with the city. That’s a pretty tough deterrent that has not been included in the law before.

In several ways, as we previously reported, the HRO actually makes the city’s civil rights law more pro-business than it has been in the past. Most notably, employees were able to ask a reviewing court to review a decision of the Equal Opportunity Advisory Board in the past. As proposed, only employers can challenge an order of the Board. The Board, however, can take a business to court to enforce an order it has imposed on it in response to an employee’s complaint.

Advance Indiana tips its hat to O’Shaughnessy for clarifying the misconceptions with which his earlier article left the Star’s readers.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Gov. Warner's Gutless Move To Assuage GLBT Voters

Gov. Mark Warner (D) of Virginia issued an executive order that for the first time bans discrimination in that state’s government based on a person’s sexual orientation reports today’s Washington Post, following the lead of more than 25 other states. Advance Indiana would normally applaud such a decision, but not in this case.

Warner, who is an Indianapolis native and potential Democratic candidate for president in 2008, made his announcement with less than 30 days left in his term as governor. If Warner sincerely believed in this policy he would have done it long before now while he was actively governing the state. Presumably, he didn’t do so before now because he thought it would create an uproar in the conservative Old Dominion state. Rather, he did so to throw a bone at GLBT-friendly voters in the next presidential election.

Conservatives in the state reacted predictably. "Instead of publicly standing in front of the cameras and microphones, he sneaks it in during the last days of his administration," Chris Freund of the Family Foundation said. "He has clearly chosen to leave a legacy that includes the very social issues he says he doesn't want to deal with."

Warner’s spokesperson said that “the governor was moved to act after he learned that 60 percent of state lawmakers have pledged the same protections in their own hiring.” Okay, so then why did you do it in the dark of the night and without a formal press conference if it was so important to make the change?  Sound a little familiar.

Advance Indiana would note that, unlike the policy enacted by Gov. Daniels for Indiana’s state employees, Warner’s policy does not include gender identity.

Ed Feigenbaum On The Bizarre GOP Senate Caucus Election

Ed Feigenbaum has a fascinating, behind-the-scenes look at the GOP race for the Senate appointment to replace retiring Sen. Murray Clark (R) in his weekly subscriber-based Indiana Legislative Insight newsletter. His sentiments about the race are similar to many political observers. “We can’t say that we’ve seen a stranger caucus election to fill a vacancy over the past 15+ years than we witnessed last week in the race to fill the Senate seat of Murray Clark (R),” Feigenbaum said.

He says of the winner, “Mike Delph (R), a guy who proved his doggedness and tenacity in the 2002 GOP Secretary of State race at convention, showed it again this month, prevailing under bizarre circumstances.”

Feigenbaum’s step-by-step account has some interesting observations, including the following:

  • Isaac Randolph was the choice of party leaders, not only because he would help diversify the party as an African American, but he would also present a formidable candidate to win the congressional seat currently held by Rep. Julia Carson (D).

  • Sen. Clark initially recommended Randolph but later refused to endorse his candidacy, causing his support among committeemen to erode.

  • Party faithful were still miffed at Randolph because he had made no effort to repay the more than $80,000 the party dumped into his council bid in 2003.

  • After Gov. Daniels stepped in to support Randolph, Rep. Dan Burton called Daniels and told him to butt out.

  • Party folks were miffed about Gov. Daniels’ staff involvement in the appointment.

  • 20 precinct committee spots remained open as of the day of the caucus voting in Marion Co. because two township chairman had not bothered to fill the posts, an oversight that may well have cost Gammon the race.

  • Delph won the first vote taken by a 34-30 margin, but one more ballot was counted than committeemen in attendance, prompting a demand by Gammon’s supporters for a re-vote.

  • Delph came out on top in the second round of voting by a 36-29 margin.

So what’s the upshot of it all? Feigenbaum doubts that Randolph will run for the seat next year as originally planned. Feigenbaum asked the thoroughly discredited Marion Co. GOP Chairman Mike Murphy if anyone from Marion Co. would challenge Delph next year. “I have no idea. You’ll have to ask potential candidates,” Murphy told him.

Advance Indiana thinks it is completely unconscionable for Murphy to allow 20 committeemen position in two townships, Wayne and Pike, to remain vacant, particularly as we approach another election year. Not that we wanted to see Gammon win the race, but we do hate to see Marion Co. lose a legislative seat to Hamilton Co. It is long past time for the Marion Co. GOP to commence a new search for a forward-thinking leader. Murphy sees the future of the party through a rear-view mirror without any of the leadership skills the party badly needs to remain a viable party in an ever-changing county.

It is hard to believe that when Advance Indiana editor Gary R. Welsh moved to Indianapolis more than 15 years ago, the Marion County GOP organization was recognized as one of the best Republican county organizations in the country, controlling every single major office in the county and townships (save Center) and regularly delivering large pluralities for state-wide candidates. The party needs to find a younger, more-enlightened person, such as Bill Oesterle, to stop the hemorrhaging. To do anything else would be to relegate the party to permanent minority status.

As for Delph’s election, it means an even more conservative Republican-controlled state senate. In his speech to the caucus attendees, Delph, Feigenbaum reported “pledged to respect ‘the sanctity of innocent human life,’ and to ‘stand up to the Indiana Civil Liberties Union in defense of our constitution ally protected First Amendment right to worship the Lord as we individually see fit. I will stand up and say that rulings like that which came from Judge Hamilton are not only wrong, they are in a sense unAmerican.’” Just what Eric Miller ordered. How disappointing.

Feigenbaum’s Indiana Legislative Insight provides by far the best and most incisive reporting on the legislative and political happenings in Indiana. If you want to subcribe, click here.

Friday, December 16, 2005

IFI Auto Calls Urge Public To Stop HRO

A number of subscribers to the list serve reported tonight that they received unsolicited telephone calls from the Indiana Family Institute in opposition to Proposal 622, the Human Rights Ordinance. The calls have raised concerns in the community that the IFI may be making the calls in violation of Indiana’s no-call law, but the calls don’t appear to violate the law.

The telephone call, which originated from an area code in the State of Virginia, contained a pre-recorded message from the Indiana Family Institute urging opposition to the HRO. The message urged the recipient of the call to visit the organization’s website,, which provides information about the HRO’s pending vote on December 19, 2005, and how to contact your council member to urge a no vote on the HRO. The web page also contains information about how you can make a donation to the IFI.

The call clearly denotes the fact that the Indiana Family Institute is a not-for-profit organization. Not-for-profits are permitted to make unsolicited telephone sales calls to solicit contributions, if the calls are made by their own employees or volunteers. Since it was a pre-recorded phone message placed from an out-of-state telemarketer in Virginia, the calls clearly were not made by the IFI’s employees or volunteers.

Indiana’s no call law only applies to “telephone sales calls”. A call to political action by the telephone message made by IFI does not constitute a “telephone sales call” within the meaning of Indiana’s no-call law, which generally applies to solicitations pertaining to the sale of consumer goods or the extension of credit, and solicitations for charitable contributions.

If the IFI’s calls had included a solicitation for contributions, as well as a call to action to oppose the HRO, the fact that the calls were not made by volunteers or employees of the IFI would have brought it within the reach of the no-call law. It does not appear, however, that the pre-recorded message included a message soliciting contributions, although that could be the indirect result if the person visited the IFI’s website and saw the solicitation on its homepage for a contribution.

The cost of making these kind of pre-recorded phone calls to Indianapolis voters is not inexpensive. The IFI, or someone on their behalf, is putting some big bucks into this final weekend push before the HRO is voted on at Monday night’s special city-county council meeting to break the wave of support the HRO has been riding in recent weeks.

It now appears likely that Councilors Ron Gibson (D) and Lynn McWhirter (R), both of whom voted against it last April, will now vote for the HRO, providing it the 15 votes it needs for passage. Two other councilors, Lance Langsford (R) and Steve Talley (D) are the other two councilors who switched their support in favor of the HRO after voting against it last spring. The Christian right is clearly running scared at this point and is pulling out all of the stops to defeat the HRO.

The Wait for Brokeback Mountain

Anxious movie-goers are going to have to wait a little longer for the arrival of Brokeback Mountain in Indianapolis. According to a spokesman for Landmark Theater's Keystone Art Cinema & Indie Lounge, where the highly acclaimed movie will debut in Indianapolis, the film will not open until early to mid-January, 2006, although the distribution plan could change.

Perry Glorioso said, "I know that’s probably later than you’d like, but it is not unusual for the distributor of a sophisticated film like Brokeback Mountain to open in a few major cities first, then slowly roll out the film to other cities around the country once interest and good word-of-mouth has reached a fever pitch." He added, "It’s basically a marketing strategy that works well for films that have to compete for attention against mega-budget commercial films. In any case, release patterns are, by and large, determined by a film’s distributor, not by the film’s exhibitor."

Interest in the movie has certainly hit a fever pitch. It broke per screen average records in the three cities it premiered in last week, New York, Los Angeles and New York, pulling in more than a half million from just 7 theaters. The total budget for this movie about an American romance between two gay ranch hands was only $12.5 million, despite the fact that it features two A-list actors, Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal.

The movie's lean budget has not stopped it from garnering awards. It has been nominated for 7 Golden Globe awards, including best motion picture, best actor (Heath Ledger), best supporting actress (Michelle Williams) and best director (Ang Lee). It has also been awarded best motion picture by the New York Film Critics Circle and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Most observers expect the movie to pick up several Oscar nominations. It is an early favorite to receive an Oscar for best motion picture.

Tully On The HRO And GOP Councilors

The Star’s Matt Tully tells Republican GOP councilors they have two choices in pondering what to do on the Human Rights Ordinance (HRO). “They can listen to the opponents, those shouting "homosexuality!" over and over, obsessing over the word and trying to make council members feel icky, sinful, for even considering voting against discrimination. Or they can listen to a more rational group -- a group of prominent Republicans who are speaking up for the business community.”

Tully cites the message of local developer Bob Gallant, the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce and other business leaders who believe passage of the HRO will be beneficial economically to Indianapolis. But so far their message isn’t getting through to the mostly pro-business GOP councilors.

“So Gallant has another message [Tully says]: The modest gay rights ordinance -- and, folks, this is just about keeping people from losing their homes or jobs unfairly -- could nudge forward Indy's desired image as a cultural and life sciences hub.”

It sounds like a no-brainer, but as Tully points out “not everyone wants that.”  Tully comments: “Just ask GOP Councilman Scott Keller, who backs the ordinance. After he set up the meeting with business leaders, and after he endorsed the mayor's police merger, one council colleague demanded Keller be tossed from the party. Stupid, stupid move.”

Bill Oesterle, Gov. Daniels’ 2004 campaign manager and head of Angie’s List felt this about Councilor Bradford’s demand that he leave the GOP: “Keller has the support of the business community on both issues," he said. "I would like to think (his critics) aren't telling the business community they can't be Republicans."

Tully concludes, After all, it's hard to call yourself the party of business, or to win much support from the business community, if its leaders see you as a roadblock.”  Here here!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Miller Singing His Swan Song On HRO

With visions of an Indianapolis free of all forms of discrimination haunting him, the Grand Dragon of Moral Righteousness, Eric Miller, has begun singing his swan song. Miller, having now lost the moral debate over Indianapolis’ proposed Human Rights Ordinance, is serving up to his hooded faithful, more anti-gay bigoted rhetoric in hopes of pulling off a last-minute miracle.

A central argument Miller made to city-county councilors during the hearing on the HRO was that there is absolutely no evidence that people are discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation. But he warns his supporters that, if Proposal 622 becomes law, “[m]ost businesses . . . could not refuse to hire anyone based upon their sexual orientation.” That begs the question of Mr. Miller, if their ain’t any discrimination goin on, why then would any business refuse to hire anyone because of their sexual orientation, and why would you warn your followers of this outcome?

Miller then goes on to warn the faithful that “[i]t will force these businesses to treat homosexual couples the same as a married couple involving a man and a woman.” Proposal 622 imposes no such requirement on businesses and Miller knows it. Indiana law provides no legal recognition for same sex couples, thanks in part to Indiana’s Defense of Marriage Act, another Miller-inspired idea to save us all from the so-called threat gay couples pose to heterosexual marriages.

Finally, he warns that passage of Proposal 622 “would be granting legal recognition to the homosexual lifestyle.” And you know what that means. “Granting legal status to the homosexual lifestyle is another step in moving toward homosexual marriages,” says Miller. Again, Miller ignores his own legal inspiration outlawing recognition of gay marriages in Indiana.

But wait, there’s more. Miller says, “It is wrong for the government to give governmental approval for the homosexual lifestyle . . . many consider immoral.” And, he adds, “[i]f the government can impose this requirement on businesses . . . then the next logical step . . . would be to require churches and schools to hire homosexuals too.” Churches have always been exempt from civil rights laws, including the proposed HRO, a fact well known to Miller. And, perhaps he didn’t know it, but the Indianapolis Public School District already has a non-discrimination policy based on sexual orientation.

Oh, how Miller must long for the days when the KKK’s D.C. Stephenson reigned supreme over state and local government in Indiana with little or no organized opposition. If Stephenson had just not made the mistake of impregnating that State House secretary after a night of wild partying, and of getting caught rubbing her out, he would have spent the rest of his life at the throne of power instead of behind bars. Oh, how different things would be today.

And then Miller pauses and wonders: “Am I destined for the same downfall? Will I be caught? Will people learn who the true me is? God, I sure hope not. But as long as these ignorant whackos keep throwing money at me, let the good times roll.”

Lugar Will Support Hate Crimes Legislation


In an e-mail communication to Advance Indiana editor Gary R. Welsh today, Sen. Richard Lugar stated unequivocally that he supports the pending federal hate crimes legislation in the Senate, which adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the federal hate crimes list of bias-motivated crimes. “I have previously supported the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act, often referred to as the “hate crimes” legislation, and will continue to do so,” Lugar said.

Lugar’s support for the pro-gay legislation will likely offend extreme Christian right organizations, such as the American Family Association and Advance America, but it is the right position for him to hold. As Advance Indiana reported earlier this week, the AFA took out full-page ads in the Indianapolis Star urging readers to contact Senators Lugar and Bayh to urge them to oppose the hate crimes legislation. Those ads proclaimed: “Hate Crime Legislation = Unequal Justice in America.” Similar ads in Virginia apparently convinced Sen. George Allen to switch his support of the legislation to opposing it.

Lugar does not see it as unequal justice at all. He said: “Hate crimes legislation will not prevent all acts of hate. But as a former mayor, I believe in providing local authorities and the federal government the tools they need to deal with hate crimes. It is particularly important that communities can call on the federal government to supplement their resources and expertise when they are faced with a potentially volatile circumstance. We must work together at all levels of government and throughout society toward a coordinated effort to stop violent crime.”

Lugar bases his support for the hate crimes legislation on his experience as mayor of Indianapolis. Lugar wrote: “As Mayor of Indianapolis in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, I oversaw a big city police department that had to deal with many crimes and incidents involving hatred and discrimination. Several months after I assumed office, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. Many cities across the country experienced riots and burnings after the shooting. In Indianapolis, we did our best to hold the community together. On some occasions maintaining order and the rule of law was a difficult task that required tremendous amounts of city resources, a no-nonsense approach to law enforcement, and a willingness by the entire community to listen to each other. At stake was the stability and peace of the entire community. This experience taught me that maintaining order in our society cannot be taken for granted and that a single act of hate, such as the assassination of Dr. King, can have far-reaching consequences.”

With Lugar’s solid support for the legislation and Sen. Evan Bayh’s support as a co-sponsor of the legislation, the Christian right’s big money and menacing political threats have struck a dry hole in Indiana. Let’s hope that Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi’s proposed state hate crimes legislation receives more sympathetic ears from Indiana lawmakers than it has in the past.

Indy Councilors Report Threats On HRO Vote

At least three 3 Indianapolis city-county councilors report receiving threatening e-mail messages concerning their votes on Proposal 622, the Human Rights Ordinance, according to the Star. The councilors mentioned in the article include HRO supporters, Scott Keller (R) and Steve Talley (D), as well as the undecided Patrice Abdullah (D).

The anti-gay bigoted head of the American Family Association, Micah Clark, tipped his hood to Indianapolis’ GLBT community’s efforts in support of the HRO. The Star reported: “Clark said that this time, gay rights groups were doing a much better job of galvanizing their supporters. He said it's unfortunate that some people have gone too far in supporting or opposing the proposal. ‘This is a very divisive and emotional issue,’ Clark said. ‘It's hot, and you're going to get people coming out of the woodwork on both sides. The hurt feelings could resonate a long time.’”

Talk about hypocrisy. No one has gone to further extremes in opposing the HRO than Clark. His communications to his members and to the councilors have been chucked full of outright lies and impassioned pleas that have undeniably played on people’s fears and prejudices.

Indiana Equality Region 8 chairman, Bill Browning, tells the Star that “[h]e said he's had success in inviting council members to meet with small gatherings of ordinance supporters in private, which Steve Talley agreed has “more impact.”

Patrice Abdullah estimates that he’s received at least 1,500 letters, faxes and e-mails concerning the HRO. Abdullah told the Star he is dividing the responses between supporters and opponents to determine which way he will vote, and that he is discarding those responses he receives from outside his district.

The Star article mentions that Abdullah acknowledged that “[s]tudies show his Downtown district has the highest percentage of gays and transgender residents." That acknowledgement is somewhat of a turnabout for him. Abdullah voted against the HRO, citing his Islamic religious beliefs, last April.

While meeting with a small gathering of HRO supporters awhile back, Abdullah astonishingly said that is faith calls for the execution of people who practice homosexuality. Abdullah also told Advance Indiana editor Gary R. Welsh a few weeks ago prior to a council meeting that “sixty-seven percent of my people” oppose the HRO, and that he would not bow to threats from homosexual activists to defeat him in the next election, leaving no indication that he had changed his position on the HRO.

More recently, Abdullah told the Star that he might be the 16th vote for the HRO if it achieved the requisite majority required for its passage, but that he would not cast the deciding vote for it. Perhaps Allah is finally shining some light on Abdullah.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Buy Bayh

Indiana Daily Insight picks up on a recent articles in the Village Voice and Washington Post reporting on how members of Congress use their spouses to advance their political careers, which spotlight Sen. Evan Bayh’s wife, Susan. She’s proven to be quite a cash cow for the Bayh family according to the report.

The Post writes about Bayh:

On the Democratic side of the aisle, Indiana senator Evan Bayh's wife, Susan, is a law professor who serves on several corporate boards, including Curis Inc., a therapeutic-drug development company; Dendreon Corporation, a therapeutic-drug development company; Dyax Corp., a biopharmaceutical company; Emmis Communications, a big media company; and Wellpoint Inc., a Blue Cross and Blue Shield company. Before that, Susan Bayh was a director of Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc., from 2000 to 2004, and Esperion Therapeutics Inc., a biopharmaceutical company, from 2000 to 2003. From 1994 to 2004, she was a distinguished visiting professor at the College of Business Administration at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana. From 1994 to 2000, she was a commissioner for the International Joint Commission of the Water Treaty Act between the United States and Canada. From 1989 to 1994, Susan Bayh was an attorney in the pharmaceutical division of Eli Lilly and Company. Evan Bayh has voted on a variety of health issues in support of the Medicare drug benefits, backed allowing drugs to be imported from Canada, and supported the rights of patients to sue HMOs for punitive damages. In 2003 the American Public Health Association gave him a 75 percent rating. While the finance industry was a major contributor of campaign funds for Bayh, in terms of individual companies, Eli Lilly, where his wife had worked, was the second-largest contributor with $54,022 last year. All told, taking into account Bayh's senatorial campaigns and, before that, his campaigns for governor, Lilly (the largest pharmaceutical company in Indiana) has been his second largest contributor since 1999.

Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign is no doubt pleased by the unwanted attention focused on Sen. Bayh and his wife. She expects him to be a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination which she intends to win in 2008.

Bosma: Give Me Christian Prayer Or Give Me Death

House Speaker Brian Bosma (R) announced today that he will fight by “all legal means” a federal district court order that the House of Representatives must confine its daily prayers to non-sectarian messages. “We will find a way to have prayer within the order in one fashion or another,” Bosma told the Indianapolis Star.

Bosma will take his challenge all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if that’s what it takes. Procedurally, the Speaker, through Attorney General Steve Carter’s office, will ask Judge David Hamilton to reconsider his earlier ruling against sectarian prayers and, if necessary, appeal the decision to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The appeal will not be resolved before the legislature reconvenes on January 4, 2006, and Bosma appeared to rule out defying Judge Hamilton’s order. “I’ve taken an oath to uphold the constitution and laws of this state and the United States 11 times, 10 as an elected official and one as a lawyer,” Bosma said. “Direct defiance of a federal judge’s order I don’t think would be a respectful means of an elected official showing that we are a nation of laws and not of men.”

Bosma’s decision to appeal the order, however, makes it clear just how much he is using this issue to play to the religious right for political purposes. Judge Hamilton’s order made it clear that the House was free to hold daily prayers at the beginning of each of its business days. Hamilton said, as the Star article points out, while people are free to pray as they wish in their places of worship, “they do not have a First Amendment right, however, to use an official platform like the Speaker’s podium ... to express their own religious faiths.”

Of course, we the taxpayers will be stuck paying the legal bills for this useless exercise. But Bosma will have another one of his hot-button wedge issues alive during next year’s election to drive voter turnout of the wackos on the far right. And he will further ensconce his image as a Christian martyr.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

HRO Passed Out of Committee On Party Line Vote


The Rules and Public Policy Committee voted on party lines by a vote of 5-3 to send Proposal 622, the Human Rights Ordinance, to the full council. All Republican members of the committee, including Councilors Phil Borst, Bob Cochrum and Scott Schneider voted against the HRO, while Democrats Rozelle Boyd, Greg Bowes, Joanne Sanders, Steve Talley and Monroe Gray all voted in the affirmative. A vote by the full council is anticipated at a special meeting, which will take place next Monday, December 19, 2005. The police merger ordinance will be considered at the same time.

The Committee members heard more than 4 hours of testimony from dozens of members of the public, although those speaking in favor exceeded those speaking in opposition. Advance America’s Eric Miller, Indiana leading anti-gay bigot on the Christian right, brought in a group of students attending a local bible school to testify in opposition to the ordinance. Without those students, the opposition was pretty much left to be carried by a handful of black ministers, Dr. Vincent Alig, a discredited member of the psychiatric profession and father of the anti-gay bigoted Councilor Ginny Cain, and last but not least, the Grand Dragon of Moral Righteousness, Eric Miller.

The committee testimony laid out for the full public to see just how few rational arguments the opposition to Proposal 622 has for opposing discrimination against gays, lesbians and transgender persons. Opponents relied on fear and prejudice in the absence of logic. And when that didn’t work, they argued that gays were better off financially than the rest of society, which is proof that they are not discriminated against, and that the ordinance is unnecessary. And when that didn’t work, they warned that adoption of the ordinance would pave the road for legalization of same sex marriages.

By contrast, supporters shared numerous stories of individual incidents of discrimination in the workplace, which flew in the face of arguments of the opposition that no discrimination exists. A respected member of the psychiatric profession, who is also a theologian, set the record clear that homosexuality has not been considered a mental disorder since the early 1970s after medical science proved otherwise. Apparently, Dr. Alig hasn’t opened his medical books in the last 50 years according to this expert.

The religious debate over the issue predominated testimony from both sides of the issue. The opposition was clearly perturbed by the informed and considered testimony of Dr. Edward Wheeler of the Theological Seminary of Indianapolis, who is also African American. He reminded the black ministers gathered to oppose the ordinance that Indianapolis has had less than a stellar history when it comes to civil rights. The takeover of state and city government by the KKK and the rampant discrimination within the Indianapolis police department as recent as within the last couple of decades were just two examples he cited. He argued that broad cultural acceptance is necessary to make Indianapolis a better community in which to live.

Councilors received letters from numerous businesses and business organizations who are supporting the HRO, including the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce. Marion Co. GOP chairman Mike Murphy’s employer, Wellpoint, was one of many businesses expressing their support for Proposal 622. Apparently Wellpoint has not communicated their position to Mr. Murphy, who has used his political position to urge Republican councilors to vote in opposition to the HRO. And all Republican councilors on the committee dutifully abided by Murphy’s Law tonight.

As an indication of the growing rift within the Republican Party, extremist Republican Jim Bradford demanded that Republican HRO sponsor Scott Keller leave the Republican Party after he agreed to vote for the police merger ordinance, which failed a few weeks ago just by one vote, in what Bradford alleges was in exchange for Democrat Steve Talley’s support for the HRO.

Bradford told WTHR-TV, “I think Scott Keller and Steve Talley swapped votes to get what they wanted to get done, and it's absolutely wrong . . . There will be more times there's swapping votes and that's why I've asked Scott Keller to resign as a Republican and be the Democrat he is and get over it. I'm never going to be in the caucus with him ever again. I'm done with it.”

Keller and Talley both called Bradford’s charges ridiculous. As to switching parties, Keller said, “We've been Republicans since 1860 and we're staying that way.” Talley credits his change of heart to several small group meetings with gays and lesbians (that would be those organized by the IE Region 8 Steering Committee). “I always knew there was discrimination, but did not know it rose to the level where it ought to be written into law.”

Keller is being inundated with hate e-mails as a result of his decision to support the police merger ordinance. He told WRTV that for those sending him the really hateful e-mails, "He has a Smith and Wesson." There is a bit of irony in Keller being attacked as a Republican for supporting the police merger ordinance. It was, afterall, the Republicans who gave us the consolidated city-county government more than 30 years ago. Then-Mayor Richard Lugar tried unsuccessfully to merge the police departments at that time; he instead settled for what he could get. Keller is really just carrying through on Mayor Lugar's original vision of a streamlined, unified city-county government.

Councilor Scott Schnieder sought unsuccessfully tonight to table Proposal 622 based upon the argument that there are not 15 council members who will vote for its passage. At the current count, there are 13 councilors publicly supporting the HRO. There are, however, several other councilors leaning in favor of it. Only two more votes are needed for passage.

The Indianapolis Star reports that both Republican Lynn McWhirter and Democrat Ron Gibson are now leaning in favor of supporting the HRO. McWhirter told the Star: "[T]he Republican Party urged members to oppose the proposal in April but has backed away from that stance in light of similar bans included in the hiring policies of Gov. Mitch Daniels and Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi. '(Party leaders) see it's moving forward, so they said everyone should vote their conscience this time.'"